Discharged sailor Tim Beauchamp: My Reaction to the Overturning of DADT

Note from Joe: Tim served for four years in the US Navy. He was discharged from the Navy for being gay in 1988. That was even before the DADT law took effect. An August 2001 AP article, which can be read here, explained and provided details on Tim’s military career and discharge while noting how one of Tim’s poems was included in a Smithsonian exhibit on Submarines the Cold War.
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I was asked to speak at my faith community, yesterday, regarding the overturning of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I shared my story of serving as Protestant Lay Reader on submarines, and my outing and discharge just in case those in attendance were unaware of my history. I then added:

I heard someone claim on a cable news network that as a member of the LGBT community that this repeal is a small step where they felt just a little more equal today as an American citizen. I respectfully disagree with that particular take. What has happened can not be underestimated. It is huge. Our enemies have used that particular argument that gays can not serve alongside straight troops to effectively argue against the recognition of our equality and civil rights. We have also learned, as a community, that even though we have been promised by our friends to work on our behalf that we can not afford, for one moment, to allow them to rest on those promises alone. Action must be demanded in order for our friends to be motivated to follow through on those promises.

Yesterday was a great day for us in the history of the civil rights movement for the LGBT community. Yesterday was just one step on our march to recognition of our full equality. Yesterday was just the beginning but yesterday, was absolutely huge in our struggle! Mark yesterday as the beginning of the end of institutionalized discrimination by our government towards our LGBT community. Our enemies know this, as evidenced by McCain’s meltdown, and we know this. We must use this win and inertia provided to move us forward to full inclusion in the promises enshrined in our constitution.

I have to thank John and Joe for providing me this forum as a writer for AMERICAblog Gay, and allowing me to be part of this change in my small way. It takes every single one of us to achieve these victories.

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